Five great gadgets for hybrid working
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Meet the most powerful iPad ever
I love an iPad. For the past year, I’ve used the Air 4 (released in 2020) as a laptop lite. I enjoy the ease of slinging the Air – which sits between the Mini and basic iPads, and the Pro – into my tote and sliding it out in cramped cafés.
So the release of the Air 5 has had me salivating. On the (attractive, rectangular, 10.9in) face of it, this wafer of aluminium looks near identical to its predecessor, with the same sharp liquid crystal display and USB-C port. Although its screen is a touch brighter, the main superficial difference is that it comes in new shades, including a questionable purple and a very appealing bluish steel.
But the real change? It’s fitted with the M1, Apple’s most powerful processor, which also propels the newer MacBooks and the iPad Pro. That makes the Air 5 the most affordable – and littlest – Apple device to feature the Popeye-like chip. It also has 8GB of RAM, which, in terms of speed and memory, puts it on par with laptops. It’s extremely slick to operate, basically daring you to open hundreds of tabs while streaming a show or game. And the cellular version comes with super-fast 5G connectivity and a battery life of about 10 hours.
Can it replace your laptop? Probably not, although for some it will come close. For work purposes, you’ll want to add the excellent Magic Keyboard. (Creative types can buy the Apple Pencil for sketching and video-editing functions.) And its new, ultra-wide 12MP front camera – with a “Centre Stage” feature that keeps you in the middle of the frame – will be handy for Zoom calls. The default model only comes with 64GB, so most folks – especially anyone dealing with videos – will need to upgrade to 256GB. Other niggles: there’s no headphone jack or Face ID. But these don’t detract from its appeal as a stellar shrunken laptop. For reading, writing, streaming and emailing on the fly, it’s unmatched. iPad Air 5 from £569, apple.com
A pet of a mouse
This dinky mouse is quiet as a… sorry, couldn’t help myself. But it’s true: it emits barely a squeak when you slide it across your desk and press its clickers. (One exception: the scrolling wheel makes a slight ticking sound.) Part of gaming specialist Razer’s new office-focused line, the Pro Click Mini nestles in the palm of your hand and has comfy indented rubber grips on its sides. It has lightning reactions, works wirelessly and lasts up to 725 hours before needing replacement batteries. You can sync it with four devices and programme its seven buttons to do specific moves. The size of a travel shampoo bottle, it’s easily stashed in a pocket when toggling between WFH and the office. Razer Pro Click Mini, £79.99, razer.com
If you love Post-Its…
Who says sticky notes can’t be techy? If you – like me – have an unhealthy obsession with jotting down endless lists and reminders, you’ll find this upcoming release irresistible: VersaNotes are basically large Post-Its you can use ad infinitum – thin, bendy LCD displays that have a paper-like feel and come in pop colours (and in two sizes: 10cm x 10cm or 10cm x 15cm). You scrawl on them with a magnetic stylus and wipe the slate clean by dipping the stylus’s eraser end into a divot in the corner. An eco-friendly alternative to racing through reams of paper. Available in the US this summer and worldwide in 2023. Boogie Board VersaNotes, from $24.99 (pack of three), myboogieboard.com
A mechanical keyboard with added smarts
As I write this review of the new 5QS keyboard on the new 5QS keyboard, each note I strike makes a click-clack sound reminiscent of a typewriter. It’s hugely satisfying. The Texan company behind it produces premium mechanical keyboards, meaning there’s a switch under each key so strokes feel more deliberate, and ring out more clearly, than if you type on a regular membrane keyboard. Mechanical keyboards also generally last longer. The 5QS has a sturdy anodised aluminium frame and tall, backlit keys. You can customise the colours and programme different keys to light up as a handy alert (for instance, when an email from the boss comes in). Das 5QS Keyboard, £160, amazon.co.uk
Head down and charge
Anker’s latest charger packs a whack of power into a fun-sized package. With similar dimensions to a deck of cards, the 736 is the world’s littlest 100W wall charger with gallium-nitride technology, according to the Chinese electronics brand. (Gallium-nitride chargers are more efficient and less prone to heating up than traditional silicon ones.) Measuring 7cm x 5cm x 6cm and weighing a smidge over 200g, it has a fold-out plug and a trio of ports: two USB-C, one USB-A. It splits its considerable wattage between the devices plugged in. (100W should be enough oomph to quickly charge even a powerful laptop.) Available in the US now and in the UK from late May. Anker Nano II 100W charger (aka the 736), $79.99, anker.com
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